Title - Ballad for Brad
Artist - The Margaret Slovak Trio
For those of you not in the know, Jazz guitarist Margaret Slovakís comeback album after overcoming major physical problems caused by a car accident is a quietly inventive trio set filled with original heartfelt compositions and subtle creativity.
Joined by bassist Harvie S and drummer Michael Sarin, Margaret Slovak displays a personal style on both nylon string and electric guitars, performing ten of her colorful originals.
Back in 2003 Margaret Slovak, an up-and-coming guitarist with great potential and her own sound, was seriously hurt in a car accident that damaged her right hand, arm, shoulder and brachial plexus. After many operations and years of struggle, she is now well on her way to making a successful comeback.
Ballad for Brad, her long awaited fourth album as a leader, features the guitarist in top form in a trio with bassist Harvie S and drummer Michael Sarin.
The project is named after her beloved husband Brad Buchholz who has had a longtime struggle with cancer.
Margaret Slovak contributed all ten compositions and, while the tempos are generally laidback and the improvisations are thoughtful, the music is filled with creative ideas and telepathic interplay by the trio.
1. Again (4:29)
2. Flowers for Marie (6:52)
3. The Answers Within (4:18)
4. Song for Anne (5:57)
5. Forty-Four (2:56)
6. Courage, Truth and Hope (5:23)
7. Carrot Cake Blues (4:47)
8. Ballad for Brad (5:44)
9. Thirty-Three (7:31)
10. Will You Ever Know? (4:08)
The album opens with the harmonically jazz waltz of Again and the compassionate ballad Flowers for Marie and are then seamlessly followed up with the enthusiastic hipsway of The Answer Within, before we are given two songs dedicated to Margaretís late sister: the aching Song for Anne (which celebrates her life) and the soberly subdued Forty-Four.
Up next is the ornate, yet pensively flourishing Courage, Truth and Hope (a tribute to journalist Bill Moyers) and that is itself backed by the playful nature found within Carrot Cake Blues (where the trio get to indulge in some medium-tempo swing blues), the quietly puckish title track Ballad for Brad, this wholly heartfelt album rounding out on the bowed bass-led Thirty-Three (courtesy of Harvie S), coming to a close on the smoothly skittish, yet always controlled and accessible melodies within Will You Ever Know?
Margaret Slovak, who is originally from Denver, started on the guitar when she was 11. By the time she was 14 she was already composing and two years later she began playing professionally. She graduated from the Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle.
In 1988 she moved to New York City where she led her own group for five years and recorded For the Moment (which was released years later in 2007), a set of eight of her original songs with a quartet that included pianist Fred Hersch, bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Michael Sarin.
Margaret moved to Portland, Oregon in 1993 where she recorded Undying Hope, performing her originals as a solo guitarist. She toured with her quartet (which included drummer Bob Moses), performing in Germany, the Czech Republic, Canada and throughout the United States.
Despite the injuries suffered during the 2003 car accident, she was able to release New Wings, a set of solo and duet pieces and spent 2008-2012 back in New York City. In addition, since 1994 Margaret has performed for patients in cancer treatment centers, hospitals and hospice.
Now after many surgeries and a successful recovery, Margaret Slovak (who currently lives in Austin, Texas) is realizing her potential.
Ballad for Brad, which most are saying is her finest recording to date, serves as the perfect introduction to her musical talents.
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